Paraguay’s president has fired the country’s interior minister and top police official after the killing of young opposition party leader — a death that came amid violent clashes overnight sparked by a secret Senate vote for a constitutional amendment to allow presidential re-election. President Horacio Cartes said Saturday that Interior Minister Tadeo Rojas and National Police Chief Crispulo Sotelo had been let go. Rodrigo Quintana, 25, was killed at the headquarters of a liberal youth activist group, a different location than the congress building where most of the violence took place. Demonstrators set fires around the legislative building after the vote to allow Cartes to run again in a country haunted by the 35-year rule of Gen. Alfredo Stroessner.
Paraguay: ‘A coup has been carried out’: Paraguay’s congress set alight after vote to let president run again | The Guardian
Protesters stormed and set fire to Paraguay’s Congress on Friday after the senate secretly voted for a constitutional amendment that would allow President Horacio Cartes to run for re-election. The country’s constitution has prohibited re-election since it was passed in 1992 after a brutal dictatorship fell in 1989. “A coup has been carried out. We will resist and we invite the people to resist with us,” said Desiree Masi from the opposition Progressive Democratic Party. Firefighters managed to control the flames after protesters left the congress building late on Friday night. But protests and riots continued in other parts of Asuncion and elsewhere in the country well into the night, media reported. Earlier, television images showed protesters breaking windows of the congress and clashing with police, burning tires and removing parts of fences around the building. Police in riot gear fired tear gas and rubber bullets.
In a move rejected throughout the region and decried as a “coup” by the opposition, Venezuela’s Supreme Court effectively shut down congress, saying it would assume all legislative functions amid its contention that legislators are operating outside of the law. The decision will undoubtedly increase tensions in the South American nation where the opposition-controlled congress was seen as a last bastion of dissent. The move is also a slap at the international community, which just this week was pressing the socialist administration to respect the role of the legislature and to hold new elections. As news spread about the ruling, condemnation was swift. Organization of American States Secretary General Luis Almagro said it was tantamount to a “self-inflicted coup” and called for an emergency meeting of the permanent council. Peru broke off diplomatic relations, and the United States, Mexico and Colombia condemned the move.
After months of behind-the-scenes preparations, Paraguay’s president, Horacio Cartes, has moved to amend the constitution to allow him to be re-elected in 2018, prompting warnings that the country where Alfredo Stroessner ruled for more than 30 years is once again sliding towards dictatorship. Members of the governing rightwing Colorado party – which has held power for all but four of the past 70 years – joined with several opposition legislators to propose changes to the senate’s procedural rules, a precursor to introducing a re-election bill after a similar attempt was narrowly defeated in August. “Paraguayans have to go out on to the streets to defend democracy, which is under attack,” Rafael Filizzola, a senator with the leftwing Democratic Progressive Party, told reporters.
Venezuela’s Congress on Sunday declared that the government had staged a coup by blocking a drive to recall President Nicolas Maduro in a raucous legislative session that was interrupted when his supporters stormed the chamber. Opposition lawmakers vowed to put Maduro on trial after a court friendly to his socialist administration on Thursday suspended their campaign to collect signatures to hold a referendum on removing the deeply-unpopular president. Lawmaker Julio Borges said the opposition-led congress is now in open rebellion after a majority of its members voted that the decision constituted a coup with government participation. “We will bring a political trial against President Nicolas Maduro to get to the bottom of his role in the break with democracy and human rights here,” Borges said.
Thousands of people aligned with the political opposition demonstrated in the Haitian capital on Wednesday against President Michel Martelly, accusing him of orchestrating an “electoral coup d’etat.” The protest comes after seven presidential candidates called Monday for an independent investigation of initial vote results that determined Jovenel Moise, backed by Martelly, drew 32 percent of the ballots on October 25. Moise will go into a runoff on December 27 against Jude Celestin, of the Lapeh party, who garnered 25 percent of the vote. The election is the latest attempt in the Americas’ poorest country to shed chronic political instability and work toward development.
In the aftermath of the failed coup in Burkina Faso, questions are being raised on how to get the electoral process on track again and whether members of the former ruling party will take part. But the streets of Burkina Faso’s capital city, Ouagadougou, are busy again as people try to move on from the events of September 16, which paralyzed all economic activity for a week. Saidou Zangre reopened his clothes shop Saturday. “The recovery can’t be automatic,” he said. “It is also our role to come back into the city center and show people that it’s OK, that there is no problem anymore.”
An army general in Burundi announced on Wednesday that the military had ousted President Pierre Nkurunziza, setting off celebrations in the streets among protesters who had been trying to block the president’s bid for another term. “President Pierre Nkurunziza is removed from office,” Maj. Gen. Godefroid Niyombare said in a broadcast on a radio station in the capital, Bujumbura. In explaining the coup, General Niyombare said the president had killed opponents and protesters, overseen a corrupt government and — by seeking a third term — had disregarded the 2000 peace agreement and the 2005 Constitution to end the country’s civil war.
Maldives President Mohamed Waheed says he will remain an independent observer of the upcoming presidential election but expressed doubts over its credibility, Xinhua reported Wednesday citing local media. Speaking to the media on Eid-al Adha, Waheed, who earlier this week withdrew from running for a second term, insisted that he would not back any of the three candidates still in the fray. They include former president Mohammad Nasheed, who bagged 45.45 percent of the vote in the first round that was later annulled. The other two contenders are tycoon Gasim Ibrahim and autocratic former president Abdul Gayoom’s half-brother and MP, Abdulla Yamin. Both candidates polled nearly equally with only some 3,000 votes giving Yamin a slight edge. During the now defunct presidential poll held Sep 7, President Waheed obtained 5.13 percent of the popular vote, finishing last among the four candidates.
West African leaders decided to send troops to coup-hit Mali and Guinea-Bissau to support their return to civilian rule and demanded coup leaders “return to barracks” in both countries. At an extraordinary summit in Ivory Coast, the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also said the two countries must prepare for legislative and presidential elections within a year. Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, current head of ECOWAS, pledged a firm response to the instability “to prevent our sub-region from giving into terrorism and transnational criminality”. “The safety of Europe and of the United States now starts in the Sahel and the Gulf of Guinea,” Ouattara said.
Within weeks, Mali has plunged from being a sovereign democracy to a fractured territory without a state, occupied by competing rebel groups in the north while politicians and coup leaders in the south jostle for control of the capital Bamako. There is no sign the broken nation can be put back together soon – raising concerns among neighbours and Western powers of the emergence of a lawless “rogue state” exploited by al Qaeda and criminals. “We have never been in such a dire situation at any other time in our history,” said Mahmoud Dicko, influential head of the Islamic High Council in the poor former French colony once seen as a poster child for electoral democracy in West Africa. There is no state and two-thirds of the country is out of control,” he said of the seizure by a mix of Islamists and Tuareg-led separatists of the northern desert territory one-and-a-half-times the size of France.
Guinea-Bissau’s military junta said on Wednesday it would take two years to restore democratic rule in the West African state through elections that will be set by a soon-to-be-named caretaker government. The announcement came after broad international condemnation of the shadowy “Military Command” which seized power last week and cut short a presidential poll by detaining its front-runner, former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior. The former Portuguese colony has seen several coups and army revolts since independence in 1974. The latest coup was a blow to efforts by Western donors to reduce military meddling in the country’s politics and counter the influence of drug-trafficking cartels using Guinea-Bissau as a transshipment point.
Five candidates in Guinea Bissau’s aborted presidential election united to condemn last week’s coup, as West African delegates arrived for overnight talks with military and political figures. The April 12 military coup tipped the restive impoverished west African country into fresh chaos and interrupted a second-round presidential vote on April 29. UN leader Ban Ki-moon said Monday that a move by the coup leaders to declare a transitional government would only worsen the crisis in the African nation. Ban will “intensify cooperation” with international governments and bodies to deal with the situation following last Thursday’s coup, said deputy UN spokesman Eduardo del Buey. For its part the junta insisted that it was in control of the situation in the west African nation and urged the population not to panic.
A grimly familiar sequence of gunfire in the capital, military communiqués on the radio and the arrest of government officials is repeating itself in the small coastal state of Guinea-Bissau — apparently the latest West African nation to succumb to a coup d’état. A second round of voting in presidential elections was scheduled to take place later this month, but on Friday, the heavy favorite, Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Jr., was in army custody along with other senior officials. The military, which has dominated politics in the country ever since it fought its way to independence from Portugal in 1974, announced it did not intend to stay in power and called a meeting of political parties late Friday. But military officials did not say what their plans were for the nation of 1.6 million people, which is heavily dependent on aid and considered a major transit hub for Latin American drugs. Once again, in a country long accustomed to coups, the trigger was apparently the army’s perception that its prerogatives were threatened, diplomats said.
He has gone from president to prospective prisoner in the space of a few days. At home in the Maldives, ex-leader Mohamed Nasheed says he expects to be arrested at any moment by plotters who ousted him in a coup. “The new Home Minister has pledged that I will be the first former president to spend all my life in jail, so I think he’s working on his delivery of his pledge,” he told reporters. “I hope the international community will take note of what is happening in the Maldives, and if they can’t do something right now, it certainly will be late tomorrow.”